Article: Adventures of a modern-day Deadhead

By | February 8, 2010

EMC Ottawa West

It starts the same each time.

Pick the dates, buy the tickets and find accommodations. Plan, plan and plan some more. Obsess just a little bit. Plan a little more. Pack the car, stop for coffee, obsess a little more and hit the road.

It’s the life of a modern-day Deadhead.

Back in the ’70s, fans of the Grateful Dead would pack up their lives and travel from city to city and venue to venue to see their favourite band perform. Since so many fans did this tour after tour, friendships formed and bonds were created. They were called Deadheads.

Today, fans of another band are picking up the torch, as it were, and travelling from show to show, relishing the moment their favourite band hits the stage. It makes for great stories, unimaginable adventures, and of course, a lot of great music. We’re Hanson fans, and we’re unstoppable.

It was just a few years ago when I joined the ranks of travelling fans, booking my vacations to follow whichever tour the guys were on at the time. And though I’m still early in the process of becoming a hard-core touring fan, I’ve come to realize just how many of us there are. My touring friend, who’s been part of the scene for about 13 years, knows many of the fans we see standing in line they’ve stood in line together for more than a decade.

When this happened during the Deadhead days the Grateful Dead starting changing their shows to accommodate the repeat attendees. It meant that from one night to the next, the fans would be seeing a different show. How could the band not know the faces in the crowd each night barely changed, even though they played in new cities each night? Same goes for Hanson. They know we’re there, and they appreciate it. So much so, they’re putting together a special performance in New York City this spring just for us.

My friend Daniela and I had barely come down from the natural high of our October trip when we found out about the Five of Five series this spring. Just before the band hits the main stage at Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey, they’ve booked Gramercy Theatre for a five-night run through each of their major albums and the debut of the as-yet unreleased disc.

And so, just a few months after our last amazing trip, we began planning the next. From the look of the Facebook group created for this event, we’ll be running into a few familiar faces we haven’t seen recently. As well, there will be fans coming from other parts of the world, including Sweden, Brazil, Italy and Australia, evidence this is a gathering of the most dedicated fans.

Friends and family members love to poke fun at me and question why I need to see so many shows year after year. Daniela and I have repeatedly been asked those questions and there’s no answer that seems to satisfy our questioners. We’ve talked about it for hours, tried to find words to describe the feeling of being on the road with our favourite band. Simply put, it’s addictive.

The first show of the tour is our reward day, our opportunity to act a little silly and have fun without worrying too much about running into the band members. We dress our best, listen to the band’s music on the way to the venue, and let all of our silliness come out before anyone can catch us acting like 11-year-old girls.

Most people don’t understand what it is that draws us to this band, which hasn’t had a radio hit in years. Maybe it’s the fact that we’re all the same age – the band members and the fans alike. Maybe it’s the fact that we literally grew up with them, from the impressionable years of our youth, to the formative years of early adulthood.

But I think it’s something more. Each generation has something they need to rally behind, mine rallies behind the idea of change. Whether it’s a change from the manufactured music force-fed to us through commercial radio, or a change in the horrific realities of poverty and disease around the world, we seek change passionately.

And Hanson? Well, as youngest brother Zac told me in 2007, they’ll always keep trying to “lead with passion.”

For as long as they lead, the modern-day Deadheads will follow.

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